Between late 1970s and the mid 1980s, Gunderloy published several other zines in addition to F5 — and given the haphazard nature of how these zines were tucked into Box 9 of the archive, there were probably a lot more than just eight nine ten (I keep finding more and more in my files), and several of them appear to be one-offs, though it’s admittedly difficult to be sure. They include (and in no particular order):

  • Accumulations (perzine)
  • Egocentricity (apazine)
  • Nugatory Nuisance (apazine)
  • The Dismal Lich (gaming zine)
  • Amanuensis (quillzine?)
  • Beaucéant! (apazine)
  • Incalculable Tedium in the Frozen Land (perzine?)
  • Gunzine (interview zine?)
  • Halt, Passenger (apazine)
  • The Muzak News (apazine)

Since most of these were apazines, surely Gunderloy’s involvement in the sci-fi fanzine community meant there were more. In fact in Issue #1 of Amanuensis, a one-off “quillzine” of his sci-fi fiction that was written concurrently with F5 and when Gunderloy was 25 years old (1984), he reflected on his history as a writer:

“I’ve been writing stuff for just about as long as I can remember. My earliest publications were semi-humorous semi-underground paper in 5th grade. Through junior high and high school I was in various creative writing anthologies and then co-edited a full-blown underground paper. My senior year in high school I discovered fandom and I’ve published something approaching 3000 pages of fanzines since then, mail in APAs. Currently I’m writing for around ten apps and doing xx columns for various fanzines.”

His earliest writings in the archive start in 1978 with Accumulations, a perzine he started in California when he was just 21, just a few years out of high school (although he was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, I’m not sure where he went to high school). Accumulations chronicles his daily life from December 1978 to May 1980 (then there’s a gap and an issue or two from 1984).

I haven’t read these very thoroughly, but it’s clear from this zine that Gunderloy wrote every damn day and one can surmise from his early involvement in fandom and the nature of his perzine that there wasn’t much of a distinction between writing and publishing, whether the output was a mimeo, dot matrix printer, or offset press. For him, writing was publishing. And in that sense, an early DIY ethic comes through, one predicated on trial and error, where success meant someone responded. It’s obvious that F5 rendered visible a counterpublic of zines (and in some ways, one could argue it created it), but that came only thanks to Gunderloy’s prolific publishing, even when that meant a project had a very brief lifespan. 

Mike Gunderloy published the first issue of F5 via a run of 50 copies, printed on a double-sided single sheet of paper dated May 4, 1982. While Wikipedia notes that he made Issue 1 ”on a spirit duplicator in his bedroom in a slanshack in Alhambra, California” the issue itself says he was “now at” Hyde Park, the southernmost neighborhood in Boston where his then-partner was pursuing a PhD at Harvard. Dubbing it “a collection of notes on current publications and what-not,” subject to “æditorial whim,” and ending with the Discordian phrase “HAIL ERIS!” in the flipside’s footer, Gunderloy set out to use F5 as a way to bring together the disparate interests of his readers. The issue featured nine or so reviews ranging from contemporary fringe groups like The Church of SubGenius to anarchist publications to offensive BBSes with area codes in San Francisco and San Louis. Having already published various zines for some time under his Pretzel Press imprint, including zines like Accumulations (a perzine), Egocentricity (the zine of a sci-fi APA listserv), and Dismal Lich (gaming), F5 carried on Gunderloy’s synthesis of radical politics, the occult, and absurdity, all filtered through a sense of humor and, ironically, a refusal to commit. While the look of F5 #1 is similar to those other zines, it would quickly morph into something else entirely.